With Grand Ceremony, China, Russia Make Up

Article excerpt

China and Russia proclaimed an end Saturday to any lingering hostility between the two longtime Communist giants, pledging they would no longer target nuclear missiles or use force against each other.

The pomp-filled signing ceremony at the Kremlin - a far cry from the bristling animosity between the two nations during much of the Cold War - came as the last Russian troops in the West returned home from Germany.

Marching bands escorted several thousand green-uniformed soldiers down Tverskaya Street, the city's most prominent boulevard, where victorious Soviet troops marched after coming home from World War II.

The simultaneous events marked a symbolic turning of the page, nearly three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia's greatest threats are now posed not by rivals but by its own economic predicament and the proliferation of organized crime. Trade, not troops, brings strength, and China has become Russia's second-biggest trading partner after Germany.

Several hundred Communists showed their anger at the change, waving red Soviet flags and portraits of Josef Stalin and chanting "Shame!" as the soldiers arrived from Berlin by train. Ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky called the withdrawal lamentable.

The ceremony at the Kremlin culminated a warming in relations between Russia and China that began in the early 1980s and was made official in 1989 when relations were normalized by then-Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

The joint statement on missiles is similar to one Russia signed earlier this year with the United States and Britain. It was signed at the end of talks between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

The two nations settled a longstanding disagreement over a tiny part of their border, which prompted armed clashes in 1969. They also agreed to slash the number of troops stationed on both sides of the 2,725-mile boundary.

"Autumn is the season of harvest, and in Moscow we have reaped a good crop," Jiang said at the St. …